Free speech, not just for academe 2

January 12, 2007

Keith Flett (Letters, January 5) argues that the freedom of academics to speak out "cannot extend to people weighing in with racist, sexist, homophobic and other prejudicial thoughts".

Leaving aside the crucial issue of who is to decide what is racist, sexist or homophobic, the extension to "prejudicial thoughts" would seem to cover a great many of the pronouncements of academics in public debate, not least some of Flett's own contributions.

Flett is careful to add the caveat that the "prejudicial thoughts" have to be expressed "with a view to impacting in a negative sense on the freedom of others", but this still leaves unanswered the question of who decides.

Allen Esterson
London

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